On a recent training run I was contemplating my rate of travel and how long I could continue at that speed. I felt pretty comfortable. If I went any more than 4 or 5 seconds per mile faster my breathing became laborious. I was close to my threshold pace, the tempo which I could maintain for an hour. I have been running long enough to know my physical limitations. There are workouts that I do each week where I push myself well beyond my threshold so that in time my threshold pace will be faster. But this was a long run that was supposed to be at or above (slower) my threshold pace.
There are several meanings for the word “pace.” The usage above refers to a rate of speed. Another use is for controlling your rate of speed (or level of activity) to ensure that you’re able to continue until you reach your goal or destination. Think of someone who has a work project that he or she is passionate about. The work begins taking up more and more time. The individual puts in long hours, skips meals and has no time for rest or recreation. Friends may encourage the workaholic to pace him or herself, but the pleas usually fall on deaf ears; that is until depleted physical resources reach dangerously low proportions and this person gets sick. Now the work stops. A more reasonable pace would have allowed the individual to work steadily without burnout.
Yet another usage of “pace” is when someone else guides you along at sets the pace for you. This could be a coach, physical or otherwise, or a boss. It could even be a respected friend who knows you well, to whom you’ve submitted yourself to their guidance. This person has the benefit of observing your life and analyzing your efficiency and other factors like attitude (irritability, etc.).
What does this have to do with my faith? Well, there’s a reason that they call it our Christian walk. Yet when our faith is new we experience more rapid growth, like a tree that shoots up from the ground in the spring. But it can take decades before a tree reaches its full maturity. Likewise, we may shoot out of the gate ready to take the world by storm, but we still have a lot to learn about the Lord, ourselves, the community of believers, etc. Life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. We need both the zeal of our new faith and the endurance of maturity to finish strong and finish well. Having someone more mature in their faith to guide us along, to pace us, can be a powerful blessing. I encourage you to find someone like that to assist you in your journey.
Have a blessed weekend!